Patrick Ambrosio is an unabashed Francophile. He could have named his Huntington shop Il Buon Formaggio or El Buen Queso — not to mention The Good Cheese — but there was never any doubt that it would be Le Bon Fromage, and would count among its dozens of cheeses a goodly number from France, a country with which he has “a personal romance.”
Ambrosio concedes that France has no monopoly on great cheese, but he grows almost misty eyed when he describes the Bethmale cow and goat cheeses from the Pyrénées, Roquefort from the South, Comté from the East, Bleu d’Auvergne from the South-Central, Livarot and Camembert from Normandy.
Abbaye de Belloc, also from the Pyrénées, is a particular favorite. “It’s made by Benedictine monks of the Notre-Dame de Belloc monastery. It’s so sweet and rich, so beautifully expresses the sheeps’ milk that it is made from.”
The flavor of cheese is all about the milk used to make it — what the animals eat, in which season the cheese is made. That is why Ambrosio avoids cheeses whose flavors come from elsewhere. He thus far has resisted trendy cheeses such as Drunken Goat (goat cheese that has been smoked and submerged in red wine) and Basiron Pesto (a Dutch cheese flavored and colored by basil and garlic). But he has caved to demand where Truffle Tremor, a creamy truffle-flavored goat cheese, is concerned.
Ambrosio, his 50-odd cheeses (ranging in price from $15 to $30 a pound), plus assorted crackers, olives, sausages and other accouterments have taken up residence in the back of The Crushed Olive, the Main Street olive-oil emporium that once housed Ideal Cheese (before Ideal decamped to its own market-café down the block, transformed into Ideal Element and, last year, closed). A trained chef (degree from the French Culinary Academy), he fell hard for cheese about 15 years ago, when he worked the cheese counter at Dean & DeLuca in the Napa Valley. Returning to New York, he oversaw the cheese at Bernard’s Market in Glen Head (now closed) and the Babylon Cheese Cellar as well as working at iGourmet, a leading internet cheese retailer. But his dream always was to have a cheese shop of his own and, in May, he took the leap.
In addition to les fromages Francais, Ambrosio also stocks wheels and wedges from all over Europe and the United States, including Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove in California and Pawlet from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont. Still, he’s partial to the Old World cheeses. “It’s hard to compete with something that’s been made for 800 years.”
Le Bon Fromage
278 Main St., Huntington